Film Review: Sorority Row (15)By Kim Francis
September 09, 2009
It is generally fair to say that remakes are rubbish. And it seems that none are more so than remakes of horror movies, seminal or otherwise.
Tending to eschew any semblance of subtlety and tension that made the originals worthy of a remake in the first place, any attempt to recreate – or re-imagine to use the fashionable term – its predecessor frequently results in an unrefined, un-nuanced flick. Take the recent remake of Friday the 13th released earlier this year; it proceeded to bludgeon itself to its own grisly fate with a sledgehammer. Or, in the case of Sorority Row, a pimped tyre-changing tool.
Based on the minor 80s’ slasher hit The House on Sorority Row, this updated version is actually a cut above its peers. It’s due to some inventive murder sequences, a well-placed injection of wry humour and some inspired casting.
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When a sorority party prank goes wrong and a fellow student winds up dead, a group of female ‘frenemies’ makes a pact to cover up the tragic accident to safeguard their futures. But when a hooded figure shows up with a fiercely modified version of the murder weapon and starts picking them off one by one, they are shocked at the realisation that their mistake has come back to haunt them. Can it really be the friend they killed back from the dead and bent on revenge? Or has somebody else discovered their dark secret?
Blending the black humour and student-life satire of Heathers with the stalk ‘n’ slash subject matter of the likes of Halloween, Sorority Row is a largely – and surprisingly – successful go at applying the naughties’ update treatment to the 80s’ splatter flick.
The acerbic repartee and verbal sparring amongst the female characters is well-written and hugely enjoyable, giving an edge to the film that sets it apart from many of this burgeoning sub-genre’s also-rans.
The casting is spot-on, with a stellar performance from newcomer Leah Pipes as blonde bitch Jessica who gets all of the best lines – and utters them with relish. Praise is also reserved for the wonderful Carrie Fisher who is a truly inspired addition to the cast.
She may no longer be the sweet and feisty young thing that set hearts a-flutter in that gold Return of the Jedi bikini and she may, these days, look a little stretched, ravaged and puffed-up by surgery, drugs and injectable fillers respectively but she’s undeniably funny and she’s certainly not afraid to send herself up.
Throw in some fairly innovative despatch sequences, the most memorable involving a wine bottle, along with an implement of death that is heavy on both phallic and religious symbolism and you have all the elements for a near-decent splatter flick remake.
Hitchcock it ain’t – heck, it probably isn’t even one of the Halloween sequels – but with low expectation, you’re in for an entertaining surprise.